"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." --Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
That sentiment has never been more profound and applicable than it is today.

It is in that spirit that we are publishing the 2019 edition of Ohio Education by the Numbers. This book is meant to be a look at vital statistics about Ohio’s schools and the students they serve. It isn’t a call for policy change, and it isn't designed to be spin. We've worked hard to keep it strictly “by the numbers.”

It's our hope that the book will be a readily accessible resource that keeps education stats—with cites to original sources—at your fingertips. The key data points should prove valuable to policymakers, school leaders, journalists, parents, and others throughout the year.

For those preferring a web version, check out the companion website While a PDF can be downloaded from this page, you can also email [email protected] for a booklet that's perfect for your desk or briefcase.


All students deserve equal access to an excellent K–12 education. The quality of their educational opportunities shouldn’t hinge on zip codes, family backgrounds, or the type of school they attend. Sadly, due in part to polarizing politics, Ohio has long underresourced its public charter schools, shortchanging tens of thousands of needy students in the process.

Our new study, using Ohio funding data from fiscal years 2015–17, reveals that charter schools face massive inequities in funding compared to district schools, the most troubling of which are found in the Big Eight cities. For example:

  • Charters located in the Big Eight received on average $10,556 per pupil in total revenue versus $14,648 for the Big Eight districts. This represents a shortfall of $4,092 per pupil, equivalent to 28 percent less revenue.
  • Revenue disparities occur in all four of the Big Eight cities in which a closer analysis is conducted. In Cincinnati, charters receive, on average, 32 percent less per pupil than Cincinnati City Schools; Columbus charters receive 23 percent less; Cleveland charters 36 percent less; and Dayton charters 27 percent less.
  • When all Ohio charters are included in the analysis—both brick-and-mortar (in and outside of the Big Eight) and online schools—charters experience
  • ...

One of Ohio’s oldest public charter schools, Toledo School for the Arts (TSA) was forged from concerns about the state of arts education, especially performing arts and dance. For young people with a keen interest in the arts, any shortage of offerings limits opportunities and may lead to less engagement in school.

The latest entry in our Pathway to Success series shows how one specialized charter school has been able to tap into students’ interests, focusing and inspiring them to cultivate their talents. TSA, for instance, encourages freshman students to choose an art “major” to pursue. The twins featured in this profile are TSA graduates, one who carried her major in dance from Toledo to Wright State University and one whose major in writing led to pursuit of an English degree at the University of Toledo.

We urge you to read the profile and see their success for yourself. How many other young people would benefit from a high school education like the one provided at TSA?

Last April, we published a report by Andrew Saultz and colleagues highlighting “charter school deserts” across the country, or high poverty areas that lack charter schools. The report was accompanied by an interactive website that enables users to look at every neighborhood in the country, including its population, poverty level, and data for every public school serving students who live there.

We’ve now updated the map to include private schools, many of which offer a critical additional option for disadvantaged students in some areas that need them the most. Users can now identify every public school – both traditional and charter – as well as the vast majority of private schools in their neighborhoods. The good news is that some private schools are located in charter school deserts, opening opportunities for low-income communities not served by public options. Specifically, we find that voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs sometimes serve as private school oases in the charter school deserts originally identified in our map.

Of course the mere existence of private schools does not guarantee access. But in cities such as Atlanta, Jacksonville, and Los Angeles, we see that some private schools are located in charter school deserts. And...

Credit recovery, or the practice of enabling high school students to retrieve credits from courses that they either failed or failed to complete, is at the crossroads of two big trends in education: the desire to move toward “competency based” education and a push to dramatically boost graduation rates. Balancing these competing demands is a challenge, but balance we must because, under ESSA, states are required to factor graduation rates into their high school accountability plans. That provides an unintended incentive for schools to play games with graduation requirements, which underscores the need to keep credit recovery from turning into a total end run around actual learning.

Authored by Fordham’s Associate Director of Research Adam Tyner and Research Associate Nicholas Munyan-Penney, this study examines whether and where potential misuse of credit recovery may be occurring. Specifically, it answers three questions:

  1. How many high schools have active credit recovery programs, and are some types of schools more likely than others to have them?
  2. How many students are enrolled in credit recovery?
  3. To what extent do schools enroll large shares of their students in credit recovery, and is that more common in certain types of schools?

Using newly released credit recovery data...

The 2017-18 school year saw our sponsorship portfolio grow from 4,100 students in 2016-17 to 4,800 students across five Ohio cities: Dayton, Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Portsmouth. We're also honored to have been recognized by the National Association for Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) as part of NACSA's Quality Practice Project.

Several of our schools performed very well on Ohio's value added (growth measure), and many exciting things are happening in the schools that we sponsor.

We are pleased to share all of this in our 2017-18 Fordham Sponsorship Annual Report, which also provides a transparent look at the performance of our schools.

Since 2005, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has published annual analyses of Ohio’s state report card data, focusing on district and charter schools in Ohio’s Big Eight urban areas: Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Toledo, and Youngstown.

For the 2017-18 school year, we provide an overview of Ohio’s assessment and report card framework along with an examination of key academic data from 2017–18 state exam results and other indicators of post-secondary readiness.

The diagnosis is stark:

  • On 2017–18 state exams, only 36 percent of Ohio students meet the state’s college-and-career ready (CCR) benchmarks in math, and 38 percent do so in English language arts. Low-income students fare even worse in reaching CCR targets: Just 22 and 24 percent of economically disadvantaged pupils reach CCR levels in math and English language arts, respectively. The CCR target is based upon reaching the accelerated or advanced levels on state assessments, and is designed to give a better indication as to whether students are on pace for success in college and career.
  • In the graduating classes of 2016 and 2017, just 26 percent of Ohio students meet the state’s remediation-free targets on the SAT or ACT exams. In six of Ohio’s Big Eight
  • ...
In the realm of education, much attention is paid to making sure that all students reach a minimum level of achievement. Raising the performance of those who struggle academically is a worthy and necessary goal. But in order to provide all students with an excellent education, attention must also be paid to the students on the other end of the spectrum—those who have a history of high achievement and performance. 
Gifted education is largely a matter of state policy, and Ohio’s policies regarding the education of gifted students are both broad and complex. This paper explores the current landscape of gifted education in Ohio in detail. 

In Ohio today, approximately 250,000 students—rich and poor alike—are formally identified as gifted. These “high flyers” have tremendous potential to become the entrepreneurs, scientists, and engineers, as well as the civic and cultural leaders of the future. Yet all too often, they sit in one-size-fits all classrooms, bored with material they already know and held back by a system that too rarely challenges them. Our latest charter public school profile is a look at Menlo Park Academy in Cleveland, a school designed to uniquely support gifted students.

We believe that this look at Menlo Park—and the success of students Cael and Teagan—will show that creating specialized schools for gifted students can be done and that the charter public school model is perfectly suited for such a task.

Although the vast majority of American parents believe their child is performing at or above grade level, in reality two-thirds of U.S. teenagers are ill-prepared for college when they leave high school.

Why this enormous disconnect? Could it be that test scores signaling that kids are “less than proficient” don’t register with parents because they conflict with the grades on their child’s report card?

Authored by American University’s Seth Gershenson, this study examines how easy or hard it is to get a good grade in high school today and how that’s changed over time. It answers three key questions:

  1. How frequent and large are discrepancies between report-card grades and state test scores? Do they vary by school demographics?
  2. To what extent do high school test scores, course grades, GPAs, and attendance align with student performance on college entrance exams? 
  3. How have such alignments and discrepancies changed in recent years?

Utilizing student-level data for all public school students taking Algebra I in North Carolina from 2004–05 through 2015–16 (including course transcripts, state end-of-course exam scores, and ACT scores), the study yielded three key findings:

  1. Although many students get good grades, few earn top marks on the statewide end-of-course exams for those classes.
  2. ...